Tag Archives: Ross Thibodeaux

A WWE: Then. Now. Forever. #1 Review – A Labor of Love

WWE: Then Now Forever #1, Seth Rollins, CoverTITLE: WWE: Then Now Forever #1
AUTHOR: Dennis Hopeless, Ross Thibodeaux, Rob Schamberger, Derek Fridolfs, Daniel Bayliss.
PENCILLERS: Dan Mora, Rob Guillory, Schamberger, Fridolfs, Bayliss. Cover by Mora.
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: $3.99

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Wouldn’t be much of a pro wrestling/comic book web site if I didn’t talk about this one. While most WWE/comic book crossovers are fairly cringeworthy, this one is pretty damn good. It may be the best one that’s ever been done, save the epically campy Ultimate Warrior book from the ’90s.

Usually, licensed WWE comic books try to make the characters work outside their own environment. In 2010, Titan Comics started publishing WWE stories involving immortals, cultists, time travel, etc. Papercutz also published strange crime-noirish stories involving WWE stars in the fictitious “Titan City.” Then of course, you had the stuff Chaos Comics put out in the early 2000s. Now that was weird.

BOOM! Studios does venture into the outlandish and bizarre. But our main story is character driven, and very grounded…at least by WWE comic book standards. It also does something that, to my knowledge, has never been done before. It’s in-continuity with WWE television.

WWE Then Now Forever #1, 2016Written by Dennis Hopeless, the story takes place in the days prior to the Shield breaking up. Our main character is Seth Rollins, who WWE fans know will turn on Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns. We look at the brotherly dynamic between the three as they have a high-stakes confrontation with the Wyatt Family. But this brotherly bond will soon come to an end, as Rollins strikes out on his own at the expense of his Shield brothers.

What impressed me the most about this issue was how Hopeless handled Dean Ambrose. He’s not the main character, but the authenticity in his voice gives credibility to the story. Ambrose is an interesting blend of coolness and instability, with just a touch of goofiness. If you go overboard with any one of those, it’s not Dean Ambrose. For the most part, Hopeless nails it. Some of the dialogue is shaky, but it’s still some of the best I’ve seen in a wrestling comic book.

Dan Mora’s art is very expressive and animated. Very fitting for a world like this, with characters this flamboyant and colorful. Not to harp on Ambrose, but there’s a shot of Ambrose’s face right after Seth’s betrayal that actually tugs at the heartstrings. It’s all pretty highly muscled, but that’s hardly a sin.

We’ve got a lot of back up content here. First up is a story about the New Day using their time machine (Remember that?) to “bring hope and cheer to those cynical and despairing times” in WWE history. This is the kind of stuff I expected. As a five-page back up, it’s harmless enough. But if this had been the main story, I wouldn’t have brought this one home. Not my thing.

WWE Then Now Forever #1, Rob Schamberger, Eddie Guerrero, Sasha BanksWWE artist Rob Schamberger has a four-pager showing us a young Sasha Banks watching Eddie Guerrero on television, and then flashing forward to some of her career highlights. We play up the idea of her being a role model for girls, and her being a part of Eddie’s legacy, as Mick Foley mentioned a few weeks ago. In many ways, these are beautiful pages. Especially as someone who watched Eddie when he was alive.

We then go to a two-page cartoon featuring ’80s stars Tugboat and Earthquake. It looks very “Steamboat Willie” inspired. An unexpected, and very creative surprise.

The issue closes with some one-page tributes to stars like Steve Austin, The Rock, The Undertaker, and Dusty Rhodes, courtesy of Daniel Bayliss. Not a huge fan of how ‘Taker was rendered. But most of this is good stuff.

WWE is in good hands with Dennis Hopeless and the crew at BOOM! Studios. This feels like a labor of love, whereas before it often felt like a labor of…obligation. This could be a lot of fun.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition.

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A Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual #1 Review – One Generation’s Garbage…

Mighty Mophin Power Rangers #1 2016TITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual #1
AUTHORS: Kyle Higgins, Ross Thibodeaux, Marguerite Bennett, Trey Moore, James Kochalka, Jorge Corona
PENCILLERS: Rod Reis, Rob Guillory, Moore, Kochalka, Corona. Cover by Goni Montes.
PUBLISHER: BOOM! Studios
PRICE: $7.99
RELEASED: August 24, 2016

***Click here for our review of the most recent issue of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

It’s funny what time reveals. Yesterday, August 28, marked the 23rd anniversary of the premiere of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. I remember being a kid in the early ‘90s and watching an episode of 20/20. They happened to be covering the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers phenomenon. The only con crete detail I recall about the report is that the news personality referred to it as “garbage.”

And yet, we’re still talking about it all these years later. One generation’s garbage is another’s inspiration, as illustrated by the collection of writers and artists brought together for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual #1. This issue gives us six short stories featuring the characters that first graced the small screen more than 20 years ago.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual #1, 2016, Goni Montes coverFirst up is series writer Kyle Higgins and artist Rod Reis with “A Week in the Life of…” spotlighting Jason, the Red Ranger. Per the title, we get some snapshots of Jason’s day-to-day life over the course of a week. The balance between the life of a teenager and the life of a hero is what I often find most interesting about these kinds of books. Higgins and Reis put Jason over like a million bucks, showing us just how dedicated he is. Reis nails it from the very first page (shown right) with a shot of the Red Ranger slicing through putties amidst a storm of some kind. Interspersed are inset panels of him at home, at school, and teaching karate class. The next few pages follow suit, and we end on a nice profile shot of Jason. The colors pop, each setting feels distinct, and Reis even gets Austin St. John’s likeness down pretty well. The issue almost peaks early with this one.

Riss Thibodeaux and Rob Guillory then give us a cartoony tale about Bulk & Skull becoming Rangers. In reading the Bulk & Skull portions of this series, I’ve found myself slightly annoyed wishing we could get back to the Rangers. Fittingly enough, that’s how I felt watching the show as a child. In a way that’s a great compliment to what Higgins and the creative team have done with this book. Still, no harm done here. It’s well done for what it is.

DC Bombshells scribe Margeurite Bennett tags in for a story about Trini facing a monster that tries to defend animals from humans. I was consistently impressed by how well some of these writers knew and respected the characters from this low budget kids show. A perfectly in-character Trini makes peace with the monster, convincing it they’re on the same side. Huang Danlan brings a nice Asian influence to things, and colors the story with mostly gentle yellows, pinks, greens, and blues.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual #1, 2016, its putty timeTrey Moore of Rachel Rising fame just barely wins the issue, pulling double duty for a take on Goldar’s origin story. His dialogue leaves something to be desired, and he gives Goldar’s brother the rather bland name of Silverback (though in all fairness, the show might have given him a similar name). But the ambition of Moore’s story is so great it almost doesn’t matter, even tying in story elements and characters from Power Rangers Zeo and Power Rangers in Space. We can’t deny Moore knows his Power Rangers.

Conceptually, this origin makes perfect sense for Goldar. We learn he comes from a pack of creatures that value power and strength above all, and he idolizes his older brother Silverback. In the end, Lord Zedd tests his loyalty by pitting his power and strength upbringing against his love for his brother. The end result is what you might expect, and it answers some questions as to how Goldar became so loyal to Zedd, but ended up in Rita’s service. It’s not perfect, but it’s a story to remember.

Next, we go to James Kochalka pulling double duty on a story about a putty patroller  falling in love with Kimberly (first page shown above). Again, not really the type of thing I look for in my superhero books. But there’s something to be said for diversity in a collection like this. It’s utterly skippable compared to its peers. But sure, why not?

Finally, Jorge Corona gives us a story about what the six heroes under the helmets have in common. The story has a nice heart, and Corona gives us some nice art here. At some points, however, his Rangers come out a bit…squiggly. Particularly in a group shot just after the halfway point. On the plus side, he draws a great Megaword.

Rob Guillory, MMPR Annual #1, Bulk & SkullOn cover duty is Goni Montes, whose work on MMPR has been positively iconic. This issue is no different. As far as I’m concerned, the more we see of him, the better.

At $7.99, this issue is a little steep from a price standpoint. But if you’re a Power Rangers geek, it’s worth it. Rarely have the Rangers been treated with such respect and admiration. By no means is it flawless. But its pros far outweigh its cons.

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